We are publishing whatever statements we can find from Labour Leadership candidates, in the interests of a fully informed debate and vote by individual Labour Party members. We feel it is better for members to read full statements wherever possible – rather than media commentary and spin.
Liz Kendall yesterday made a short speech to Westminster’s journalists at the Press Gallery Lunch. This is probably the fullest statement we have had from her on her leadership bid.
These were her opening remarks.
Last weekend Len McCluskey said that if Labour doesn’t choose the right leader, Unite might leave the party.
I’m proud to be a member of a trade union. I passionately want a strong, modern trade union movement that can advance the interests of working people across the country.
But this election can’t be about who the general secretaries say impresses them most. Or who makes the Labour Party feel comfortable. Or who’s the best known candidate in 2015.
It must be about who has got the best chance of winning and changing the country in 2020.
That means facing up to the depth of our defeat, and the scale of change needed to win again. This defeat was epic. We lost by a magnitude few predicted or imagined.
The election demands a new era for the Labour party. The question is whether we will grasp it.
If the Labour Party does not face up to what needs to be done to win back UKIP, Tory and SNP voters – in England, Wales and Scotland – then we will not win again.
The reasons why we lost aren’t complicated. They’re simple.
We decided that the British public had shifted to the left because we wished it to be so.
We rarely said what was good about our last Government, and never dealt with the central economic case of our opponents about where we really fell short.
And we didn’t have answers to the big questions people were really asking about THEIR future and that of our country – on jobs, immigration or the public finances.
Lots of people told me during the election they couldn’t see Ed as Prime Minister. But we didn’t lose because of Ed’s personality. We lost because of our politics.
The simple truth is Labour always succeeds when we match our principles with a clear understanding of how the world is changing. That’s what happened in 1945. In 1964. And in 1997.
Each time we won by appealing to people who’ve traditionally voted Labour – in seats like the one I represent – and those who have voted or might vote Conservative, like Watford where I grew up.
Labour wins when we inspire the whole electorate, not when we try and cobble together 5 or 10 percent of votes from this or that party in an attempt to haul ourselves over the line.
We win when we offer hope and opportunity, not merely sympathy and grievance.
And we win when we set out a clear direction for our country, not just a collection of causes and criticisms.
Winning next time will require real courage – and I don’t just mean courage against predictable bogeymen.
Real bravery is about displaying courage in every direction, including our own.
So when it comes to the public services I am firmly on the side of the public. The clue is in the name. Services should revolve around the people who use them – not the other way round – and be fit for the future, not stuck in the past.
There’s no point in saying you believe in economic credibility, and being careful with taxpayers money, if the public services that money pays for are a reform free zone.
On business, I want to change our whole approach, not just set up a new committee.
I want to lead a Labour Party that’s genuinely as passionate about wealth creation as we are about wealth distribution.
I want Labour not just to ‘understand’ business but be the champion of people who take a risk, create something, build it up and make a success of it.
The economy is changing faster than ever before and Britain is one of the most creative and enterprising countries in the world. We’ve got to make the best of that for the whole country.
I want a good society – with great schools, decent homes and safe streets – but every pound that pays for these comes from having a dynamic, successful economy.
Saying this should not be news. The fact that it might be says something about where we’ve been for the last few years.
But it’s not enough just to say it. We have to really mean it.
Everyone in this contest will claim to be the candidate of change. It’s progress of a sort that they feel the need to. But this election isn’t about claiming to change. It’s about who will make sure Britain meets the challenges of the future.
For me, that starts with doing more to ensure every child gets a great education. It’s the ticket to a better life for us all, and the key to Britain’s future success.
As leader, I’m not going to waste time obsessing about school structures. If a school is providing a great education – whether it’s a local authority, academy or free school – we will back it. Full stop.
What’s more, if someone wants to help run their school, they deserve credit not criticism.
Instead, my focus will be on inspiring every child, in every family to be the best they can possibly be. That starts from the moment children are born.
When kids in my constituency start school 15 months behind where they should be in terms of their development – and 20 months behind in some areas – they play catch up for the rest of their lives.
They struggle even to get basic GCSEs let alone have the chance of going to college, university or getting a good job.
That’s why children’s early years will be my priority as leader, not cutting university tuition fees.
Second, we must face head on the issue of nationalism and the rise of identity politics.
In the face of our wipeout in Scotland, and the growing sense of grievance in England, any simple or quick answers would be glib. However, a radical devolution of powers within England must be a crucial part of our response. We need a new settlement for four countries in ONE union. That’s a huge task, which I’ve asked Tristram Hunt to lead on.
But let me make one thing clear.
I don’t believe that becoming ever more nationalist is the solution to the challenges we face.
We are a United Kingdom. We have more that unites us than divides us, and we achieve more together than we do alone. Under my leadership the Labour Party will always make that case.
Third, we need a foreign and security policy that defines Britain’s place in Europe and the rest of world.
We face a global struggle against Islamic extremism, a resurgent Russia, the threat of climate change and an economy that’s more connected and interdependent than ever before.
Meeting these challenges demands a Britain that’s fully and passionately engaged in Europe and beyond.
Yet under this Government we’ve seen a quiet diminishing of Britain’s role in the world, which we did too little to challenge because we’ve been paralysed by the past.
Under my leadership, Labour will no longer stand by while the Prime Minister weakens our country and allows the world to become less secure.
That means insisting that the UK maintains our basic NATO commitment to continue spending two percent on defence.
As leader of the Opposition I will hold David Cameron to account for Britain’s promise to our allies and I’ll oppose him if he breaks it.
And as Prime Minister I will restore our position as a nation that protects our citizens – and advances our national interest – by taking our international responsibilities seriously once more.
When Labour loses we do one of three things.
We decide we didn’t win because we weren’t left wing enough – the fantasy.
We decide we can avoid the really tough decisions because they’re just too uncomfortable – the fudge.
Or we decide that winning is too important and that we will do whatever it takes – the way forward.
There is a real and fundamental choice in this leadership contest. We’ve just fought an election on a traditional platform and suffered a terrible defeat.
We don’t just need to change a little bit here or there where its easy – and then have a whole sea of no go areas because they’re too difficult, or they’ll upset someone, maybe someone powerful.
We need a completely different approach – one rooted in an understanding of why Labour wins and why we lose.
That isn’t about going back to the past, but it is about getting back to winning ways.
Good leaders listen. They lead a great team. Above all they have the courage to say what people don’t want to hear, as well as what they do.
That’s why I’m applying for the job. And it’s why I think I’m the right candidate.